Friday, March 10, 2006 13 No tags Permalink 0

Oh yes. wd-50. Big change of plans. We were sad when the guy at the door of Sugar Sweet Sunshine shook his head, “no” to us, pointing to the “Closed” sign, blocking us from devouring a serving (or two) of piggy pudding and luscious red velvet cake. But alas. Some things were meant to be. Tonight the gods decided we would’t be eating $3 sugary American confections but an elaborate 5-coure dessert tasting at wd-50.

I never even considered eating at the restaurant considering the high cost of the tasting menu (I could buy more than 60 of Mamoun’s falafels at that price!). But this was so worth it. Everything from the service to the last bite of curried chocolate almonds was simply flawless. Robyn and I stood outside the restaurant front for a good 10 minutes debating whether to go in or not. It didn’t help that the tasting wasn’t priced so we walked in and politely inquired about the prices. But once we were entered, we were sucked in. How could we NOT stay? So we did. It did not take long to be seated as a reservation didn’t show up (thank you, whoever you may be).

We’ll start with these crackers which I don’t think we were supposed to have unless ordering a full dinner. But it never hurts to ask and our super nice waiter was more than happy to bring over a “box.” Light, airy and just a tad salty, these were nice but nothing to go home raving over.

First taste. Celery root sorbet atop a bed of magic black raisins with peanut dust. They weren’t really “magic” raisins, but both of us had a rather difficult time retaining the minute long description of the dessert the waited spilled with such ease. They’re known as “magic” to us becuase that’s what they taste like. An odd combo by any standard, but it WORKED. “Holy crap,” we both muttered, attempting to understand how celery sorbet could elicit such senses in your tastebud you never knew to exist. The sorbet was borderline minty, cool, you could almost claim it was crispy. A tiny scoop dusted with salted peanut powder and a single plump sweet raisin was blissful. I suspect the raisin may have been briefly cooked in butter, like they do for indian rice puddings, it was moist and sticky, the skin taut – ready to burst but holding out for the bite of the lucky recipient. Note: food pics credits goes to Robyn’s Flick site - master food photographer!

The next taste was manchego cheesecake rolled in graham cracker crumbs. A light pineapple foam and a brittle manchego cracker finished off the cheesecake portion of the taste. Though the custardy textured cake with semi savory bits of graham crackers and foam that disapeared in your mouth took me to unexpected degrees of happiness it was the chopped quice and THYME SAUCE that I remember. The tiny square of quince felt cool again the heat of my tongue and sunk into a bite mingled with soft cheesecake. But why thyme? What made Sam Mason put thyme and cheesecake together? And not just thyme leaf, but thick, intense thyme SAUCE. Magic!

Mustard ice cream. Holy crap. The first taste when straight to my head. It BURNED. I never though a day would come where ice cream would BURN me. And if attacking my head wasn’t enough, it then went down to my and sizzled. Such is the power of mustard ice cream. I did not know if I liked it on the first bite. But by the second and third, my brain kept on say, “bring it on!” I do not feel as if the coconut foam did accentuated the mustard ice cream in any way, though it paired comfortably with sweetened cuts of braised pineapple and a crunchy rolled pineapple tuile. The mustard sauce was distinct, though more mellow in flavor. But the ice cream was intense. It was odd. And it took over everything. And things that are odd appeal to me. I doubt I’d have a whole pint of mustard ice cream, because honestly, it was really as if you were eating cold sweet creamy mustard, but I could find myself craving a scoop or two from time to time.

I love french toast. And I love it more when something unexpected is done to a traditional favorite. Like…making a tiny square of toast so good that that itty bitty cube is enough to be satisfying. Crisp like the buttered bun of Pearl’s lobster roll, but sweet and caramelized, a single bite revealing steaming hot brioche like dough. Put that aside a scoop of creamy brown butter ice cream, smooth and sinful, the flavor wasn’t particularly strong, could it be that it was purposely done to make room for the brittle thin raisin sheet – tasting of nothing other than pure sweet raisins in a dry crunchy form? Or maybe it was so that the bubbly heat of the wobbly brown sugar and raisin gelee (we’re still trying to figure out if it was raisin or brown sugar or raisin and brown sugar flavored…leave it to us…all we know is that it was fantastic). On the surface of the plate was a wide swoosh of a thick raisin sauce. Tastes much better than I made it sound. What did he do? I kept asking myself. The only thing I tasted was raisins. Just raisins. Made into sauce.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and our fifth course arrived before we knew it. All I can say is, why don’t more places serve butternut squash ice cream? I suppose I can’t blame them because it wasn’t until I tasted this creation that I realized that butternut squash and ice cream make the bestest combo in the world. Only at wd-50 they took the awesome and made it mind blowing. A football shaped scoop of butternut squash ice cream sat ever so contently on a bed of chocolate soil spotted with little toasty squash seeds. Supporting the ice cream was a rectangle of pumpkin cake. A delicate whaloomph of mole toffee finished off the dish. Every texture you could want was in this dish. The soft and grainy chocolate soil, barely salted to alert your tastebuds accentuated each perfect pop of squash seeds. They honestly went “POP” in your mouth. It was almost scary, but too delicious to be scary. I was a a little letdown by the pumpkin cake which tasted only of soft cake, not pumpkin-ey at all. The mole was dark, dare I say spciy with a definite chocolate undertone. Bbbbbrrrrring me more!

And just when we thought out meal was over, the waiter brought over a spectacular bowl of puffy goodness – ginger cotton candy. It was like ordinary cotton candy, only spun lighter and infused with an intense flavor of ginger. Pastry chef Sam Mason knows his flavors and when he says something is “mustard” or “celery” or “ginger” – it’s exactly that. He doesn’t fool you like those black sesame wasabi Vosges chocolate bars that barely hint of the claimed flavors. He delivers the real thing and that is perhaps what makes his dishes most attractive.

Minutes after the cotton candy came a small dish of caramelized almonds covered in dark chocolate and rolled in curry powder. Kept at cool room temperature, every bite mingling the slightly spicy flavors of curry with a bitter smooth chocolate and the crunch of caramel enrobing the roasted almond was, for lack of better words, sheer awesome!

We would have been satisfied right there. But there was more to come. Like…GOING INTO THE KITCHEN, MEETING SAM MASON, WATCHING HIM PLATE DESSERTS and TAKING A PICTURE WITH HIM (I almost passed out when he put his hand on my shoulder…ahh the gifted hand of a pastry chef). Robyn and I stood there watching him deftly spoon scoops of mustard ice cream, arrange a wildly structured shell of chocolate mole and spoon coconut foam over a banana based creation. He spoke a little about his inspirations and the work hours…much of which I don’t remember becuase I was so excited simply to be there. IN HIS PRESENCE. How did this happen? The evening was so perfect but I felt it would be a waste to be SO close, literally, feets away from the kitchen and not see the pastry chef. So I asked our waiter. And he said yes. The people here are so nice I want to hug them all (although they might get a bit scared of me). We left nearly $50 poorer, but I do it again in a flash. I never felt so welcome and well taken care of in a restaurant. We had about three different waiters, all who treated us as well, or even better than the dinners doing tasting menus that cost at least three times what we spent.

And that was the end of my first night here for spring break.

wd-50
50 Clinton Street
NY, NY 10002
(212) 477-2900

13 Comments
  • anonymous
    November 30, -0001

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  • Robyn
    March 20, 2006

    I KNOW WHERE WE ENDED UP AT! Heehee.No awkward moments! That’s the awesome thing about eating with people…who like to eat. We can just talk about BUTTERY ROLLS OF DELICIOUSNESS.

  • RON
    March 20, 2006

    you mentioning NYC at the start of the post, kinda confused me until I realized that you were at JFK “on your spring break.” From what’s printed on your sidebar I know you transferred away from NYC. I thought for a minute there, that I might be reading your archives. Anyways, never heard of a lobster sandwich….you gotta be making it up.

  • Kathy YL Chan
    March 20, 2006

    Hey Robyn,It’s a good thing we ended up where we did, I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything else! Not awkward at all, just delicious :)Hey Ron,At times when I’m eating such good food, I think I should transferr back…lol. Nah, I think I’m content making yearly eating pilgrimages. But if you happen to have $25 lying around and crave lobster on a buttery grilled bun, go and give it a try!

  • anonymous
    March 20, 2006

    Hi Kathy – Sounds like a good start to spring break….I’ve only had a lobster roll once before in Boston, it was just ok, though yours looks very decadent – but can you call something in a roll that you eat like a hot dog decadent???

  • Kathy YL Chan
    March 21, 2006

    Hi Kirk,Pretty much anything buttered and grilled crisp with meaty sweet lobster on top is decadent enough for me :)

  • anonymous
    March 21, 2006

    Hi Kathy – What a hoot, WD-50? What’s in a name? Looks like You and Robyn make a really great team! So interesting, Celery Root Sorbet? Mustard Ice Cream? Butternut Squash Ice Cream! And here I thought Durian Ice Cream was exotic!

  • Kathy YL Chan
    March 22, 2006

    Hi Kirk,People will make ice cream out of any flavors today, it’s crazy! I’m diners in nyc would find durian ice cream to be just as, if not more exotic than mustard ice cream…just cause they’re not lucky enough to have such a large Asian population like we do in LA and thus be exposed to the many facets of “Chinese food.” But in the end, Hawaii wins. lol. I support “home” all the way!

  • anonymous
    March 22, 2006

    Kathy, is deserts, all that the restaurant serves? How they say, “Just Deserts,” even. Really, though, there isn’t any entree items at all on the menu? Never knew they had that kind restaurants.

  • Kathy YL Chan
    March 23, 2006

    Hi Ron,wd-50I (http://www.wd-50.com/) actually a full scale restaurant. They do a extravagant tasting for $105 – but I think I’ll save that for another trip! mmm. There’s actually a few places that do only desserts, but I’m afraid I’ll lose all self control and never stop ordering if I ever venture into one. :)

  • anonymous
    March 23, 2006

    picture perfect, for the moment.

  • anonymous
    March 23, 2006

    opps….wrong post….erase please.

  • anonymous
    March 23, 2006

    Hi Kathy. I found your site from Robyn’s. She is a great eating pal as I discovered!I’m so glad you took the initiative to go meet the pastry chef. I’m usually guilty of sneaking glances into the kitchen but would never dare to ask. I should. You’ve inspired me =)

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